As you might remember if you read this blog with regularity, I picked ten pounds of strawberries over the weekend. This left me with plenty to jam. Plenty. Especially since I’m (gasp!) kind of a novice canner. Between picking and managing a boisterous Cherub, I chatted with a very sweet friend, Jenn (editor of the tremendous Greener Grocer newsletter) and she told me she had recently made some great strawberry balsamic jam. Well, that’s right up my alley.
She kindly forwarded me the recipe. I decided I’d do that (a recipe that is pectin-free – Demeter is convinced I don’t need it) and a strawberry rhubarb jam using pectin (I’ve been told by Rachel at Hounds in the Kitchen that Pomona’s is the best kind to use).
The strawberry balsamic with pepper is a jam purist’s dream. Lots of low simmering, pleasurable skimming, and mindful watching until it’s perfectly jammed and passes the wrinkle test. Compared to a pectin-using recipe, it results in a lot less jam with all the skimming and reducing, but I see the point. I really do. This is gorgeous jam, the balsamic makes it a dark, dark ruby, with only flecks of strawberry seeds left from the whole berries. I like that. However, I did use an immersion blender and skipped the step of skimming the whole berries out so I would wind up with a spreadable (or pourable over a wedge of brie and served with baguette?) jam that’s perfect on toast.
For the strawberry rhubarb, I followed the directions on the Pomona’s, using four cups of berries to two cups of rhubarb for a total of six cups of fruit. I added in a half a teaspoon of extra pectin in my novice’s fear it wouldn’t gel. And it’s a bit too firm. Well, what do you know! If you follow a recipe, it works out just fine. Huh. It still tastes amazing. Very berry-y. I think next time around, I’d use more rhubarb. I miss the tartness.
I like these two recipes because they make small batches. Eight little half-pint jars (five and three, each recipe) that fit, quite neatly in my pasta pot with the insert (super easy for processing in a water bath). Perfect, again, for a novice or someone that just doesn’t want to fuss with a day’s worth of canning. This process felt modern and completely worth my time on Sunday afternoon.
I feel energized and ready for the next you pick with the Slow Food Columbus crowd (or folks that want to know more about it) which is on July 30, 2011, at Berryfield Farm for blueberries. The generous and amazing Kate will even share her blueberry curd recipe. Trust me it’s worth the labor just for that recipe. Come join me!
Playlist included Hello, by Martin Solveig and Dragonette.